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Spokane County payroll delay blamed on holiday

Thu., Oct. 17, 2013

Spokane County workers got an unpleasant surprise Tuesday when the pay they were scheduled to receive failed to show up in their bank accounts.

A Columbus Day federal and bank holiday on Monday caused a delay in electronic delivery of employees’ pay to accounts at some 90 banks and credit unions, said Auditor Vicky Dalton.

The county treasurer’s office transferred money to U.S. Bank on Monday to make payroll, one day in advance of payday on the 15th.

Those funds were not distributed until Tuesday, too late for many employees to receive them in time to cover bills that were being paid automatically that day, Dalton said.

The money started showing up in employee accounts late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

As a result, a lot of employees had shortages in their accounts and were facing overdraft charges, Dalton said.

The county has about 1,900 employees. Of those, about 1,700 receive electronic direct deposits. The auditor provides electronic files for routing the money to employee accounts.

“We didn’t realize it was a bank holiday,” Dalton said.

The county observes all of the other bank holidays. She said the only time the mix-up could occur is when Columbus Day falls on the day before the regular payday.

Columbus Day won’t occur again on Oct. 14 until 2019, and Dalton said the county will have the problem fixed before then.

Clerks in the Spokane County Courthouse contacted all of the banks and credit unions used by employees and asked the institutions to waive fees charged if employee accounts fell short as a result of the payday delay.

Institutions typically provide customers and members a small line of credit to cover insufficient funds, but that coverage may come with a fee.

Dalton recommended that employees contact their institution and specifically ask that the fees be waived, if they appear on their account.

“The credit unions and small banks are doing a great job of working with us,” Dalton said.

The auditor also said that Tuesday’s problem also shows how many people live from payday to payday without a cash cushion in their accounts.

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